Wireless, portable Bluetooth speakers have always been a great addition to any music lover's kit bag, and a budget speaker option is a must for lazy days at the beach or more energetic mornings clearing storm debris from the drive with an appropriately moody musical accompaniment. You need music wherever you go, but the idea of emptying your wallet to do so doesn't exactly appeal to most ordinary consumers.
After all, part of the point of a great Bluetooth speaker, aside from being durable, robust and oftentimes portable, is that it can fill the room of a student house, the interior of a soggy camping tent or even the back of a camper van without leaving you penniless in the process. Price and practicality are very much watchwords here, so nothing we've listed below with set you back more than a handful of notes.
Listed are our favorite budget Bluetooth speakers, all of which were put through their paces across a spectrum of locations, users and purposes to ensure you're getting an item that doesn't suffer from cheap sound or cheap build but which instead provides you will plenty of cheap thrills.
For better or worse, the choice and variety now available in the Bluetooth market is massive, and only getting bigger as consumers demand high-quality audio wherever they go. Thanks to hands-on testing for each and every one of the speakers below in our dedicated listening facilities, you can be sure you'll find the perfect portable speaker at the perfect price.
How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
Aside from something that sounds good for the money, we advise a durable design and waterproofing at this end of the market. IPX7 and IP67 (the latter meaning that on top of waterproofing, the speaker is IP-rated against dust ingress) are good numbers to look out for – and we have listed each speaker's rating below. For the best portable Bluetooth speakers on a budget, these factors are essential.
Budget Bluetooth speakers can be small enough to fit in a coat pocket or big enough to fill a room with serious sound, so it's imperative that you also check the dimensions before clicking "buy" (don't worry, we've listed these below as well).
Whether you want full-on portability or a speaker to move occasionally from your bedroom to the kitchen, you're sure to find something here that you – and your current budget – can truly enjoy.
The JBL Charge 5 is even more durable and better sounding than the four Charges that came before it – and if you needed any more proof than its five-star review, it's a current What Hi-Fi? 2022 Award-winner. The Charge 5's predecessor carried an IPX7 rating, meaning it could handle being submerged in water to a depth of 1.5m, but the IP67-rated Charge 5 builds on that durability by also being fully dustproof. Want a speaker roughly the dimensions of a bottle of wine that'll charge your phone and sound great? You've found it.
Thanks in part to a new 10W tweeter and racetrack-shaped driver, the Charge 5 is currently as good a sound as you can get in a portable Bluetooth speaker design for under £200 ($200, AU$300). It boasts marginal improvements, both sonically and aesthetically, over its predecessors, making it now the definitive Charge model in JBL's roster.
One day JBL may produce a Charge that can be outdone by a new and plucky rival, but rest assured, that has not happened with the rather splendid Charge 5.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 5
Given that the Flip 5 (listed, below) is a past What Hi-Fi? Award winner, it will come as little surprise to learn that the Flip 6 is another resoundingly five-star product. We might have thought we’d be advising JBL to rework the Flip by now – add a few more features, change it up a bit to keep up with the competition – but instead, we are left praising the sonic chops of a proposition that now offers extra durability (it is now IP67 rated compared to the waterproof-only IPX7 Flip 5) as well as additional space within its trademark zealous and musical presentation. Yes, it's still 'just' a Bluetooth speaker – but what a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker it is.
If you want more from the midrange and less from the treble, you can now tweak it thanks to a new EQ feature in the app, which adds significant value. For a nominal price hike over the launch price of the Flip 5, there’s certainly more detail here, too.
Overall, the Flip 6 is another five-star performer, built to the highest standard and once again focused on delivering a hugely enjoyable sonic experience. Tracks are presented cleanly, cohesively and with barely any muddle, and while the Flip 6 can be slightly critical of overly-harsh recordings, most of the time it works as a great companion to the music it conveys. Enthusiastic, dynamic and full of fun, the Flip 5 gets a well-earned What Hi-Hi? recommendation.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 6
If you want a backpack-friendly Bluetooth speaker that won’t break the bank, then Tribit Audio’s updated Stormbox Micro 2 is one of the best (and cheapest) we’ve tested yet.
Tribit's small-form-factor sequel to the original Stormbox Micro doesn’t have the 360-degree grill design of many of its rivals such as the dinky UE Wonderboom 3, but during testing we found it to be one of the best value options currently on the market. The Micro 2's woven finish design is practically the same as its predecessor, but testing elicited a far better quality of audio combined with a much-improved battery life than we saw with the original Stormbox Micro.
We easily coaxed 12 hours of listening out of a single charge, while the IP67 rating allowed us to use it in the bathroom/shower without issue or damage.
Audio, meanwhile, is immediately bigger, punchier and louder than you’d expect from such a small unit. The Micro 2 does justice to Lizzo's Juice, keeping up with the track's upbeat tempo and bringing out the vocal line's vibrancy far more than most of the competing speakers we’ve tested this price. Our listening tests showed the midrange in particular is dealt with in a much more appealing manner than practically anything else we’ve seen at this price.
Legend Has It by Run The Jewels, meanwhile, showcased how much dynamism and accurate timing the Micro 2 offers than any similarly priced rival. The only issue is that it can start to suffer from distortion at louder volumes, but realistically you’ll have to pay more and invest in either a JBL Flip 6 or Wonderboom 3 to get much better overall sound.
Read the full review: Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro 2
Ultimate Ears has really made a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colourful, fun-sounding and portable models, following up the five-star Wonderboom 2 with the almost as impressive Wonderboom 3.
It's hardly a full-blown flop, but this four-star sequel hasn't quite matched the heights of its fantastic predecessor. Nevertheless, the Wonderboom 3's waterproofing and dust-proofing, plus the fact that it's actually designed to float in water, means it should be capable of withstanding off-the-wall pool parties and mucky outdoor adventures. Those adventures should go on for a while, too - battery life has been extended to 14 hours and a full charge takes around 2.6 hours on average.
Sonically, the Wonderboom 3 is an exciting listen. Bass is impressive given its small form factor, and the sense of dynamics on display is similarly impressive. You also get a ‘boost’ button on the underside of the unit that's a rollover feature from the Wonderboom 2, which emphasises the midrange when playing music outdoors – a handy feature when you're out and about. Fierce rivals at this price offer greater subtlety when it comes to detail and dynamics (such as the JBL Flip 6), and there’s still no built-in mic or app.
Even so, the Wonderboom 3 remains a very likeable portable Bluetooth speaker that won't break the bank at its £90 / $100 price.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
No, the Echo Dot isn't a traditional Bluetooth speaker in the sense of what we traditionally deem to be a Bluetooth speaker here at What Hi-Fi?. It's not portable, for one thing, as it requires a plugged-in connection to the wall to work, and it relies on wi-fi to function as an AI-boosted virtual assistant. You can (and will), however, utilise Bluetooth to connect your iPhone to the Echo Dot, especially if you want to play music, qualifying it as a Bluetooth speaker on more than a mere technicality.
Either way, the Echo Dot (5th Generation) truly earns its place on this list thanks to its all-round excellence and hugely attractive price tag. It may be cheap, but nothing about the Dot feels tacky or cut-price, and whereas once Alexa was a one-note performer capable of answering basic questions about the weather and knowing the capital of France, now she's as filled to the brim with skills and knowledge as Keanu Reeves after he's been uploaded with various handy computer programs (although she doesn't, as of yet, "know Kung fu"). The Dot's cybernetic assistant is more helpful than ever before, stuffed with so many tricks and quirks that you'll often find yourself falling into the trap of speaking to Alexa as though it, or rather she, were a real person.
Audio has come a long way, too. We weren't hugely keen on the sound of Amazon's early Echo models, but the trajectory has been very much one of continual improvement courtesy of Jeff Bezos' tireless team of tech tinkerers. Amazon's so-called “best-sounding Echo Dot yet” lives up to its billing thanks to a single 44mm front-firing speaker (4mm larger than the previous gen’s 40mm), offering sound that feels, for the size, weighty, listenable and surprisingly versatile.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)
This diminutive, soap on a rope-styled Go 3 features Bluetooth 5.1 plus a maximum power output of 4.2W, up from Bluetooth 4.1 and 3W in the previous iteration, the Go 2. The one specification that hasn’t changed is the Go 3's stamina. It takes 2.5 hours to charge fully, and you can still only get a comparatively meagre five hours of playtime from a single charge. For most hardened adventurers seeking horizons new, this might not be enough.
If you can live with the diminished battery life, though, there's much to celebrate in the sound department at the level. The extra power and overhauled design have resulted in some solid sonic enhancements, so much so that we awarded the Go 3 full five stars in the sound department during testing.
It's also an aesthetically pleasing little fella, perhaps even cuter than the 2nd generation model (if you can imagine such a thing). The problem for the Go 3, sadly, is that it's limited by a poor battery life and a pretty average sound range, so if you're only planning a trip to the end of your street, you'll be fine. Any further, you might want to consider one of this list's bigger boys, or maybe think about digging out a wireless charger instead.
Read the full review: JBL Go 3
If all you want is a portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as you can currently get for around £100 ($100 / AU$119), you’ll be hard-pressed to better the fantastic Flip 5. JBL’s offering sounds excellent for the price and is more than rugged enough to cope with a day at the pool or a night on the town.
Admittedly, the new Flip 6 has arrived to steal some of the Flip 5's thunder, but the 5 shows its worth by edging in under the £100 / $100 mark, especially with frequent deals taking this figure even lower than its original RRP. The Flip 5 is waterproof to an IPX7 rating, boasts a 12-hour battery life and has a USB-C charging port, meaning it goes from flat to fully juiced in just 2.5 hours. It's a pleasure to use and scores highly for portability, with a wrist strap that slips comfortably over the hand. A PartyBoost button also helps you pair two PartyBoost-enabled speakers to create a stereo pair, or link over 100 PartyBoost-compatible speakers in mono.
Sound is impressively weighty and agile, with a good bass punch and a real sense of openness and texture. Assuming you don't mind the lack of an aux-in port or inbuilt microphone, you'll almost certainly be wowed by this speaker's sonic chops. A superb performer.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 5
How we test Bluetooth speakers
At What Hi-Fi?, we independently review hundreds of products every year, including the latest budget Bluetooth speakers hitting the market from JBL, Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Ultimate Ears and other renowned brands, plus propositions from lesser-known brands that catch our eye. So how do we come to our review verdicts – and most importantly, why should you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in the UK where our dedicated team of expert reviewers completes testing on every product that comes our way. Of course, with portability a priority for budget Bluetooth speakers, we make sure we spend several days putting the product through its paces in real-life, on-the-fly environments too.
We have price-appropriate competitors and class leaders (often our benchmark What Hi-Fi? Award winners) constantly on hand to compare and contrast every product we review with similarly priced ones, and we take considerable time to ensure every aspect of a product is tested thoroughly, from its performance to its battery life to its weatherproofness.
All verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, too, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity too.